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Which is Makoto Shinkai’s Best Movie?

Makoto Shinkai featured image of promo art for Your Name and Weathering With You

There are few movies that took the anime world by storm with quite as much vigor as director Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name did in 2016. In Japan the movie shattered box office records, quickly earning the title of one of the best-selling anime films of all time, and overseas it was met with a deluge of praise from fans and critics alike, with abundant gushing about the film’s visuals and emotional resonance.

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Shinkai’s next film would see a theatrical release in 2019, and while Weathering With You enjoyed critical and commercial success as well, it didn’t have quite the explosive debut that Your Name had. Fans of Makoto Shinkai’s work see these two movies as being thematically and aesthetically related, which inevitably invites comparison. Although Your Name might be more popular overall, Weathering has dedicated fans who insist on certain advantages it has compared to Your Name.

10 Weathering With You: Stronger Protagonists

Weathering With You's protagonists standing next to each other

Previous anime films from Makoto Shinkai have been praised for their sense of universality; the experiences that the characters go through and the themes that the stories explore are oftentimes broadly relatable, and deal with what feels like something core to the human experience.

However, a downside to this type of presentation in Shinkai’s filmography is that characters can sometimes feel more like vessels for the audience to project onto rather than developed characters in themselves, a shortcoming that Your Name succumbs to. This issue is resolved in Weathering, though, and the protagonists of that story are complete with backstories, personality quirks, as well as goals and ambitions.

9 Your Name: More Impressive Visuals

The night sky in Your Name

While it can be difficult to speculate about the respective budgets for each film in question, most fans would likely agree that Your Name contains more arresting and inventive animation than its counterpart in Weathering. Certain sequences that come to mind when considering the masterful animation in Your Name are the asteroid strike, or Taki’s dream sequence.

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That isn’t to say that Weathering isn’t imbued with Shinkai’s trademark beauty when it comes to backgrounds and visuals in general, but it can’t quite reach the highs that Your Name does. Audiences were wowed by the art in Your Name and chattered excitedly about how the film demanded to be seen in a theatre, a reaction that largely eluded Weathering.

8 Weathering With You: More Believable Romance

The protagonists in Weathering With You smiling at one another

The relationship between Taki and Mitsuha in Your Name is compelling, well-realized, and affecting throughout, but it can occasionally feel like the romance between the two characters is predicated more on spectacle than it is on shared experiences. Disagreements can be had about whether or not this was the right choice for the film, but when getting down to it Taki and Mitsuha don’t actually get to spend that much time together.

In a happy advantage Weathering has over Your Name, protagonists Hina and Hodoka spend a good chunk of the movie together, giving their relationship a more tangible and believable reason for coming to be. The audience can see the lived experiences that the characters shared, making the relationship altogether more nuanced.

7 Your Name: Steadier Pacing

A train station in Your Name.

Anime fans with an eye for criticism have been going back and forth over Your Name since the movie came out; with spirited discussions on every front ranging from whether or not the twists made sense, whether the romance felt earned, and an assortment of other hot topics.

RELATED: 10 Behind The Scenes Facts About Your Name

One critique that almost never surfaces, though, would be the allegation that the movie is boring. This is thanks in large part due to the fact that Your Name‘s pacing is air-tight, and whisks the audience from setpiece to setpiece to keep them engaged. Compared to Weathering‘s somewhat less energetic first act, Your Name moves along at a far brisker pace.

6 Weathering With You: More Fleshed Out Supporting Cast

Supporting characters including Taiki and Mitsuha in Weathering With You

At once a strength and a weakness, Shinkai’s films can often have something of a myopic focus on the story’s central romance or themes, which works well in getting the audience to sympathize with the protagonists, but also sometimes comes at the expense of a film’s supporting cast.

Such is the case in Your Name. Taki and Mitsuha are so firmly the focus of the movie that the audience doesn’t get much of an opportunity to learn about the other characters that populate the world. Compared to Weathering With You‘s cast of colorful, complex, and often funny supporting characters, Your Name definitely doesn’t stack up in this regard.

5 Your Name: Better Soundtrack

Characters standing against a purple sky in Your Name

Despite the soundtracks for both films being produced by the same group, RADWIMPS, it feels like the soundtrack to Weathering With You didn’t make quite as much of a splash in the anime community as Your Name‘s did. Instantly recognizable music from the Your Name soundtrack has made it into dozens of rhythm games and anime music videos, while there just isn’t quite as much enthusiasm for the other film’s score.

RELATED: Every Song On The Your Name Soundtrack

Perhaps this is because Your Name tends to put its score at the forefront more often than Weathering; many scenes in the movie are montages or visual sequences that have little in the way of dialogue but very prominent music, like the film’s central montage, for example.

4 Weathering With You: Better Humor

Characters on a bench in Weathering With You

Before the release of Weathering With You it would have been difficult to consider Shinkai as a director who prioritized levity in his scripts; even his unabashedly hopeful works like Your Name like to rely more on melodrama than they do quips, which is to say nothing of his more dour work like 5 Centimeters Per Second.

Because of this, it came as a surprise to many longtime fans of Shinkai’s work when the screenplay for Weathering was received with as many chuckles as sobs. A character referred to by the protagonist as “senpai” in particular delivers some of the movie’s most comedic moments, which was refreshing, to say the least.

3 Your Name: More Engaging Twists

Bodies of water in Your Name

Your Name is a movie that can be difficult to break away from, partially on account of its numerous surprising plot twists that seem to consistently upend the story at just the right time to keep things interesting. This also helps broaden the appeal of the film outside of being a typical romance story: there are secrets to be uncovered in this world, and the movie leads the audience to them.

While Weathering does have a few surprises in store for its viewers, they don’t come as frequently and aren’t quite as deftly executed as those in Your Name. Overall, Your Name is a much more unpredictable movie, which works to its advantage in the dramatic final act.

2 Weathering With You: Stronger Sense Of Setting

A cityscape of Tokyo in Weathering With You

No one could feasibly argue that Your Name is anything less than a beautiful film; Shinkai’s trademark background art imbues every set in the movie with a sense of wonder, which is a large part of the reason the film can be so affecting during its emotional scenes.

Despite the achievement that is Your Name‘s settings, none of the locations depicted in that movie come quite close enough to top the utterly arresting depiction of Tokyo in Weathering, which is perhaps among the strongest representations of the city put to animated film. Shinkai’s camera perfectly captures not only the city’s sprawling majesty, but its grimy underbelly, flawlessly encapsulating the juxtapositions that make urban environments so interesting.

1 Your Name: Pathos

Mitsuha Miyamizu in Your Name

Weathering might have Your Name beat in terms of writing and characterization, but it’s hard to argue that it’s as effective at yanking the heartstrings of the audience, despite those advantages. Your Name‘s grand romantic gestures and striking visuals make it exceedingly difficult not to get swept up in the swelling emotion of it all.

It might not be the most scientific of measurement tools, but fans who saw both movies in theatres can probably think back on the frequency of sniffles they heard from fellow moviegoers as a barometer to identify each movie’s emotional impact.

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